Wimmera businesses cut off from customers

LINES DOWN: Stawell Steel Fabrications owner Bruce Shuttleworth fears he will lose business because of the collapse of his telephone provider. Like many affected businesses, he is making do with his mobile phone and emails. Picture: PAUL CARRACHER

LINES DOWN: Stawell Steel Fabrications owner Bruce Shuttleworth fears he will lose business because of the collapse of his telephone provider. Like many affected businesses, he is making do with his mobile phone and emails. Picture: PAUL CARRACHER

WIMMERA Conec2 customers are still suffering after several of the telecommunications company's subsidiaries went into administration on Friday last week.

Stawell Steel Fabrications, Hopper Electrics and Horsham's O'Callaghan Parade Veterinary Clinic have been forced to make do with mobile phones and email to keep their businesses afloat.

Ferrier Hodgson now controls Conec2 subsidiaries AsiaPAC Communications, iBoss International and One Telecom.

Stawell Steel Fabrications owner Bruce Shuttleworth said 95 per cent of his sales were done over the phone.

Not having a telephone connection had virtually stopped his business.

"We have to send an email to everyone to get our accounts through, and if people don't have email, what do you do?" he said.

"I send our plans through to our share director and he's just got a fax machine.

"So I don't know what to do about that."

He has advised people to call his mobile number 0428582131 or email sentinel-1@westnet.com.au while he arranges a new telephone connection.

"But it's the people who you've dealt with for years and years and don't need to look up anything they just call you," Mr Shuttleworth said.

"They'll call the number we've had for more than 30 years, and since it says this number is no longer in service they'll think we've gone out of business."

He said he was frustrated the phone number he had built his business on was now frozen.

"Send the company broke, but release the phone numbers so people can get a new phone company and forge on," he said.

Horsham business Hopper Electrics has also called for affected phone numbers to be released.

Owner Jenny Hopper said her family was relying on a personal number, 53826066, to continue trading.

"It wouldn't have been such a problem if we were able to divert our business number, but we can't do anything with it," she said.

"Initially, we didn't know what was going on, so we didn't know whether to make other arrangements.

"It's a bit hard to quantify the impact it's all had, because we don't know how many people have tried to ring us."

She said Hopper Electrics had ramped up advertising so people did not call the disconnected number and presume the business had shut.

O'Callaghan Parade Veterinary Clinic is still without landline, fax or EFTPOS services.

Veterinary nurse Jane Moore said the clinic had signed with a new telecommunications provider.

"It's just up to when they flick the switch, and we have no idea when that's going to happen," she said.

Staff have been advising people to call their mobile phones, including for after-hours emergency services.

Miss Moore said people could call the clinic on 0417821004 or 0427846219 during business hours.

After hours, people could call 0487293696 tonight and throughout the weekend.

Three businesses have called Member for Mallee Andrew Broad's office with concerns about Conec2.

Electorate officer Dione Wood said people should call Ferrier Hodgson if they could not get through to Conec2 directly.

Has your business been affected by Conec2's woes? Let us know at newsdesk@mailtimes.com.au.

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